Sep 25, 2022, Business

What is mCommerce?

John Oxley Business Consultant
Mobile phone in shopping cart
Life is what happens when your smartphone is charging. Maybe I’ve made a few eyebrows go up, but it’s true, the tail is now wagging the dog. Smartphones are such an important part of our lives today that most of us wouldn’t be able to function properly without them. And they become really important when we start talking about online shopping. According to the statistics guys, shopping by smartphone accounts for half of all online purchases, and the numbers will keep rising. What makes Mobile Commerce so attractive to more and more businesses and consumers?

Electronic commerce vs Mobile commerce

Let’s just quickly look at the differences between Electronic and Mobile commerce. Basically, it boils down to portability.

Ecommerce is the umbrella term for all financial transactions made online. Most of them are completed with desktop or laptop computers, and the benefits of having larger screens and multiple browser tabs open are clear.

MCommerce relates to all financial transactions made online using a smartphone, wearable device or tablet. Obviously the smartphone is by far the most popular of these three.

The most widespread uses of smartphones are communications and browsing/shopping. With practically 24/7 online availability, smartphones are the glue that joins us to the worldwide community.

A major channel for shopping

The predicted numbers on Mcommerce shopping around the world are stunning. Experts suggest that sales will double going into 2024 for a total of over $600 billion. 

Even with the smaller screens and tiny keyboards, consumers are really getting to like the portability and convenience of their smartphones for shopping.

Adding to that, one click checkout and ‘buy’ buttons have been introduced for speedier and simpler payment processing on smartphones. 

For the one click checkout, it’s easy to go online from a laptop and go through the sign up procedure with a company, then use the one click checkout on mobile. 

The ‘buy’ buttons allow users to make a purchase without leaving the website, perfect for places like Twitter and Facebook. 

I haven’t seen many people using tablets to make online purchases, but there must be some, as this sector of the Mcommerce market is currently worth around $60 billion in the US.

Are brick and mortar stores history?

Not in the slightest. But there is a caveat to that. Physical stores will survive if they embrace the online experience and allow shoppers to combine both forms of shopping.

Imagine walking past a famous coffee shop and your mobile picks up a discount coupon. Would you be tempted to go into the shop and buy a coffee?

Or while you are wandering around a physical store, your smartphone picks up a beacon message about a new line of *insert product here* and gives you directions to the location.

In reality, most people are ‘touchy feely’ when it comes to products and quality. There is nothing that can replace physically picking up an item and giving it a good lookover.

Although online shopping is convenient, a consumer doesn’t get the feeling of instant gratification from a purchase, and will often have to wait a few days before receiving their product. 

Brick and mortar stores will always be there to fulfill at least two purposes, from being able to use some or all of the five senses, to the pleasure of making a purchase.

Competitive pricing, showrooming and webrooming

Stores have to price their products to be as competitive as possible, as there are mobile apps for comparison shopping that will give a user a great insight into pricing policies. 

A consumer goes to a store and finds a product, then opens up the comparison app for duplicate products and checks the prices. This is showrooming, where the store is simply a display case for the consumer.

Webrooming is the opposite, where a consumer checks online to find a product first, then visits the store to finalize a purchase. It became popular during the pandemic when consumers had the time to search online before buying in person. 

Then I guess it depends on whether the cheaper product is worth the distance and time.


Using the ‘famous coffee shop’ example from earlier, where a consumer has already downloaded a brand’s mobile app. When the user gets close to the physical store, code in the app is enabled and smartphone movement is tracked.

Using Wifi, GPS and bluetooth, tracking is accurate to around 1-3 metres, enough to collect data on where the shopper is and which departments are being visited.

Purchases are added to the CRM data to allow the store to offer significant personalization and upselling in the future. 

Proximity marketing

Bluetooth beacons dotted around a store send out information to smartphones that have the appropriate app installed, and the technology has the ability to increase the customer experience. It’s a connection between the physical store and consumers who are tied to their screens and can easily guide a customer around the store and find items that are well tucked away.

Payment choices

A choice of mobile payment options is a must for consumers, as there is always someone who prefers to pay by bank transfer, by installments, or debit and credit cards.

Originally, there was some concern about security of online payments, but that has been removed by the addition of digital wallets like Google and Apple Pay, secure products from highly respectable corporations.

Most major physical banks, as well as banks that exist only online like Revolut and Curve, have their own mobile apps and set the highest standards for financial transactions.

Therefore, not only shopping, but also banking and payment scheduling can be concluded using Mcommerce.

A powerful future

A global choice in your pocket. You can’t really argue about the incredible options that come with mCommerce, and it looks like it will only improve.

Combined with voice technology and artificial intelligence, the only drawback will be having to look at the screen to see the product. And that will probably change with augmented reality glasses.

Using previous searches and purchases to offer similar products to the consumer, and with smart home devices like fridges and stock keeping, perhaps the future smartphone wake up phrase might be ‘What am I shopping for today?’